The European Union has called into question Romania's respect for democratic institutions, following the center-left government's attempt to impeach conservative President Traian Basescu.

In European Commission report obtained by the AFP news agency, the E.U.'s executive body criticized the move by the government to hold a referendum on impeaching Basescu after it suspended him earlier this month for overstepping his authority, as well as for legislative attempts to constrain the power of the Constitutional Court, which would decide whether or not Basescu had breached Romania's Constitution.

A well functioning, independent judicial system, and respect for democratic institutions are indispensable for mutual trust within the European Union, the Commission's report read.

The Commission considers that recent steps by the Romanian government raise serious concerns about the respect of these fundamental principles.

Prime Minister Victor Ponta and his majority left-wing coalition in the legislature have been pushing for Basescu's removal from office over his support for austerity measures.

As part of Romania's bid to join the E.U. in 2007, the Eastern European nation had to accept external observation of and advisement on judicial and political reforms for a period of five years, after which it would be allowed to join the 26-nation free travel zone known as the Schengen Area.

The Commission's Report indicates that it will maintain Romania's provisional E.U. status, which was expected to lift this year, putting pressure on the government to adhere to the E.U.'s guidelines on upholding democratic institutions.